Qatar plans to invest in German auto industry amid recession, emir says


Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 10

Qatar has plans to invest in Germany, and has not ruled out a possible stake in ailing carmaker Opel, the emir of the Gulf state said in an interview published on Saturday.

“We will definitely invest in Germany,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told the weekly Spiegel news magazine.

Following the example of Abu Dhabi’s decision to buy a 9.1 per-cent stake in German carmaker Daimler last week, al-Thani said the global economic crisis was a good opportunity to invest in Europe’s largest economy.

“The Germans count as the most industrious workers of the world, they will fight for their economy,” the Qatari emir said.

Al-Thani would not comment specifically on plans to become involved in General Motors subsidiary Opel, but said Qatar had an eye on the German car sector.

“It is certain that we will invest in the German car industry, but we need to find the right time and the right price to do so,” the sheikh said.

“It makes sense to become involved in a car manufacturer such as Opel or Daimler, since cars are sold worldwide,” al-Thani said.

The Qatari sheikh told Spiegel he wanted to ensure that the emirate’s wealth outlived its oil resources.

“Long-term, I see Qatar as more of an education center than energy supplier,” al-Thani said.

While several US universities have already set up shop in the emirate, he said the Europeans were being more reticent.

Qatar, the emir said, was just entering into discussions with British universities, but he said “Germany could approach us in a more engaged manner.”

On the subject of Qatar’s oil income, the emir said he’d be happy if oil prices stayed at US$40 to US$50 per barrel for the next few years, adding that it would in turn benefit their country if the global economy improved.

“I don’t see why OPEC should throttle production, just to keep the oil price high,” the emir said.